Tag Archive | Meaning

Project Transformational Vocabulary

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

Another project?

This is an organic evolution of my linguistics project [<link; shot read].

What’s it about?

I know the concept of transformational vocabulary from Tony Robbins.

The words we attach to our experience become our experience. Words have a biochemical effect on the body. (Tony Robbins)

You can change your emotional state through the language you use to describe your experience. Tony calls this type of language, transformational vocabulary.

Language is a tool. However, Tony’s idea is but one application of it. Jason Silva shares a mind-blowing perspective:

The words you use to map reality affect your experience of reality. Words do not just describe; words are generative.

Language is a metaphysical tool. […] We create and perceive our world through language. We think reality into existence through linguistic construction in real-time.

I’m fascinated by the magical technology we call ‘language’. I see language and meaning as the ultimate playground. I’m especially interested in practical ways of using language for personal transformation and for shaping your subjective reality – I call this process, reality painting.

I see concepts as the (modular) building blocks of meaning. In playing with concepts, we’re playing with meaning in the same way a child is playing with Legos. 

We all have an internal concept library we unconsciously use to construct meaning in real-time. The library was unconsciously (and haphazardly) ‘compiled’ over the course of our life. I want to make this process conscious and deliberate.

I’ve started compiling a dictionary of the most powerful concepts that make up my personal universe of meaning, and of the most powerful concepts humanity has created that are transferrable across domains and disciplines. I call this project, Transformational Vocabulary – in homage to and as an extension of Tony’s idea. 

I’m interested not just in the concepts, but also in the interconnections between them. I use Obsidian for this project because it allows me to see them as a graph – as a beautiful (and useful) constellation of meaning. 

It looks like this so far

I’m also deconstructing and organizing the concepts, identifying various kinds of linguistic and semantic structures.

On Meaning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

What’s the difference between you at your highest and you at your lowest?

“Connection with Meaning.

To navigate life, we build a Map of Meaning for ourselves to give us a sense of purpose and direction. In the absence of a Map, we drift through life, from distraction to distraction, in an effort to temporarily extinguish the gnawing emptiness within.

Without a Map, the challenge is forgetting.
With a Map, the challenge is remembering.

We can’t help temporarily forgetting what’s essential. Balance is a perpetual homecoming – endlessly losing ourselves and finding our way back to Meaning.

By Meaning are you referring to God?

For some, it is God. For others, something else. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it opens your heart to the Beauty of existence.

On Meditation and Meaning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

There are two aspects to the practice of meditation. One is about the mechanics of the practice – what to do, and how. The other aspect is about meaning. You can make the practice more powerful by making it meaningful.

How can I make meditation meaningful?

You’re essentially imbuing it with meaning and connecting it with your values. You’re weaving a personal story around it. Here’s a glimpse of my own personal story:

Meditation is Mental Training. You mind requires training just like your body does. On the Path of Mastery, meditation is a fundamental aspect of that training.

Meditation is Self-Awareness and Self-Knowledge. Meditation is a playful exploration of your inner world, and through that, a fundamental means of learning about yourself.

Meditation is Ritual. Meditation is a gateway into the universe of The Sacred.

Meditation is Self-Love. Meditation is a profound act of Self-Care and Self-Love, thus an expression of Love. The practice of meditation is the practice of Love.

Meditation is Peace and Joy. There’s a quote I love by Thich Nhat Hanh:

If you feel happy, peaceful, and joyful, you are practicing correctly. (Thick Nhat Hanh)

Meditation is the practice of coming home to yourself – a sacred Homecoming. Peace and Joy are the sign that you’ve arrived.

You can get inspiration from my story and shape your own.

Project Linguistics

The creation of language was the first singularity for humans. It changed everything. Life after language was unimaginable to those on the far side before it. (Kevin Kelly)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

I’ve spent most of my life taking language for granted. As for most of us, it was invisible.

What changed that?

The catalyst was Viktor Frankl’s beautiful book Man’s Search for Meaning. That book had a profound impact on my life. It led to me to ask one of the big questions of my life:

What is meaning?

On a winding path, the question led me to language. In a moment of insight, I realized that we use language to shape our subjective reality. Jason Silva puts it beautifully:

The words you use to map reality affect your experience of reality. Words do not just describe; words are generative.

Language is for us like water to the fish, and just like water to the fish, invisible. At that moment, for the first time in my life, I saw the water.

Language and meaning are tools. We can metaphorically think of them as an instrument. Much like a cellist uses the cello to create music, people play the instrument of language to create worlds and experiences. 

People play the instrument of language. I also play with the instrument itself. I play a meta-game [<link; short read].

I’ve been playing the meta-game on my own for several years now. But recently, while reading the Wikipedia article about affixes, I discovered… linguistics.

There’s a whole field of study about language!

It wasn’t on my mental map until then. Well, I did know what linguistics was, but I hadn’t connected it with my interests. 

I started reading an introduction to linguistics and… I fell in love. Learning about the nuances and intricacies of language made me appreciate this beautiful instrument of ours more and more. Linguistics has also given me a new set of conceptual tools to play with and, more importantly, a new lens through which to look at language. Once you learn about morphemes, the structural components of words (the object of study for the branch of linguistics called morphology), the world of words will never be the same.

In the linguistics book I’m reading, there’s a fun example about the morphemes that make up the longest word in English:

antidisestablishmentarianism

– establish
dis-establish – to reverse the action of establishing
– disestablish-ment – result of disestablishing
– disestablishment-arian – supporter of disestablishment
– disestablishmentarian-ism – practice of disestablishmentarians
anti-disestablishmentarianism – opposition to disestablishmentarianism
– antidisestablishmentarianism-ist – someone who opposes disestablishmentarianism

What’s next?

Linguistics marks the next stage of my exploration of meaning, and the next level of my meta-game. I call it Project Linguistics.”

Meta-Magic


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

How come you no longer play Magic the Gathering?

I discovered the principles that underlie what I love about Magic: Modularity and Synergy.

I call Modularity the principle behind Magic’s Lego-like structure, the property of the pieces that make up the game to combine in myriad ways. In the words of Mark Rosewater, Magic’s head designer:

Magic is really not one game but a series of different games connected by a shared rule set and game pieces.

I call Synergy the principle behind what in Magic (and other similar card games) is called a combo. The pieces that make up the game can combine to produce an emergent effect more powerful than the individual pieces. 

Understanding the principles allowed me to transcend the game. I’m now playing a meta-game.

What meta-game?

“The meta-game of Language and Meaning. It’s a game with extraordinary practical application, governed by the same principles as Magic: Modularity and Synergy. Units of language and meaning are modular elements. They can be combined to form new emergent structures. Think of all the two-word concepts I’ve been creating. Those are synergistic structures – combos.

Magic will always be a part of me. I’m now playing Magic even while not playing Magic.”

Life of Meaning 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the meaning of life for you?”

“I like to express it as a mind-map. I call such mind-maps maps of meaning.

My highest-order map looks like this:

Click to enlarge

Each item on the map is itself a deep mind-map.”

Explorers of Meaning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What do you make of Austin Kleon’s idea ‘Steal like an artist’?”

“‘Stealing’ is a metaphor. Implicit to the concept of stealing is the concept of ownership. So implicit to ‘steal like an artist’ is the idea that ideas can be owned.

I reject this notion. We are part of a vast collective process [<link; short read], a form of collective play.

We are all playing in the same universe of meaning. We are all playing with the same building-blocks of meaning. We combine building-blocks to form new blocks, like children playing with Legos. (I call the underlying principle, Modularity.)

Some of the blocks we combine have emergent properties. An emergent block of meaning represents a higher-order level of organization [<link; short read]. Think how atoms combine to form cells, which combine to form emergent higher and higher-order living structures – the same process applies to meaning. (I call the underlying principle, Chunking.)

We are explorers of meaning.

Over the course of a lifetime, every human being can explore a tiny possibility space within the universe of meaning. Taken as a whole however, at the level of humanity, we can explore a vast possibility space – and the more interconnected the world becomes, the vaster this space.”

The Art of Perception 13

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the essence of the Art of Perception?”

Attention and Meaning. 

By Attention I mean two processes: Directing Attention and Pattern-Recognition. These are two fundamental operations of the human mind.

By Meaning I mean three processes: Decoding Meaning (which is essentially a kind of pattern-recognition), Encoding Meaning (imbuing things with meaning), and Creating Meaning (Sense-Making).

Attention and Meaning form the heart of Perception. Together they create your subjective reality. The Art of Perception is the art of optimizing Attention and Meaning to shape your subjective reality.

The Art of Perception is the Art of Reality Design.”

The Art of Perception 11

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I beautify any activity?”

“Look at it through a filter of Meaning. 

How is this a Gift?

One way to answer it is by saying to yourself two mantras:

I can/am able to do this.

What (visible and invisible) systems enable you to do it, and how are they interconnected?

I get to do this.

How is it an opportunity?
What values/virtues does it allow you to practice?
What does it teach you about yourself?”

Clarity

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Seek Clarity.”

“Can you clarify what you mean?”

Seek Clarity of Purpose.

What is it that you and only you can do? (Onlyness)
How can you use your unique gifts in greatest service to the world?

Seek Clarity of Identity.

Who are you? What is the essence of who you are?
Who do you want to be?

Seek Clarity of Values.

What qualities does the highest version of yourself possess?
What are the things you choose to never compromise on?

These form your Compass of Meaning, which helps you find your way back to the Path when you (inevitably) get lost. They’re also a reality filter. In directing Attention, they shape your reality.

Seek Clarity of Practice.

To consistently be who you want to be, you need to consistently practice it. You can practice something in every waking moment.

What can you practice in this context?
What can you practice now?

Seek Clarity of Focus.

To do your best work, you need to focus your Attention on one thing at a time.

What is the highest-leverage thing you can focus on?
What is the highest-leverage thing you can focus on now?”

“What if you have multiple valuable things you can focus on?”

Seek Clarity of Priorities.

Employ what I call the value razor [<link; short read].

Which value is more important/impactful now, x or y?”